Current Issues

Learn more about the issues that are currently impacting the Texas land title industry. Select an issue below to view detailed news articles, reference materials and educational opportunities.

Attorney Opinion Letters

In April 2022, Fannie Mae altered its selling guide to allow the use of attorney opinion letters in addition to title insurance for certain loans in limited circumstances. The guide change was designed to conform to Freddie Mac’s guide allowing attorney opinion letters, in existence since at least 2008.
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Basic Manual Proposed Changes

In 2019, Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan issued a request for help identifying specific agency rules that need to be updated or changed. TLTA submitted a package of recommendations in response to the request.
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Basic Manual Reorganization

The members of TLTA's Basic Manual Task Force , chaired by Denise Holmes, started working more than five years ago on an effort to ensure the Basic Manual is easy to use and satisfies the needs of consumers, title professionals and the Texas Department of Insurance.
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CFPB “Junk Fee” Initiative

On March 8, 2024, the CFPB issued a blog post signaling a new front in its focus on “junk fees”—mortgage closing costs. The CFPB suggests that title insurance, credit report and appraisal, origination, and other closing fees are driving up housing costs and that some of them are “high and increasing due to little competition,” and states that it may issue rules and guidance to “improve competition, choice, and affordability.”
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CFPB Legal Challenge to Constitutionality of Agency’s Structure

On October 3, 2023, the Supreme Court heard argument in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association. In the matter, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) challenges the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the CFPB’s funding structure as unconstitutional.
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CFPB Review of Closing Costs

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a request for information (RFI) on May 30, 2024, regarding fees imposed in residential mortgage transactions. In addition to mortgage lending costs, CFPB cited title insurance several times in the report and referred to it as “one of the largest closing and settlement costs” when purchasing a home. This initiative is part of a broader effort by both the CFPB and the Biden administration to address affordable housing and is also related to CFPB’s review of so called “junk fees.”
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Cyber Security

Cyber security is a critical topic for the land title insurance industry and is a threat to every title operation regardless of size, location or years in business. There are many things you can do to keep your company safe from digital threats.
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Deed Fraud

Deed fraud, also called home title fraud, title theft, or house stealing, is the illegal transfer and recording of a real estate title without the knowledge or consent of the legal owner. They are attempting to “sell” property to innocent buyers, or borrow against property from unsuspecting lenders, by forging the signatures of the true owners.
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Federal Office of Insurance Roundtable on Title Insurance Reform

In the coming months, the Department of Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office will convene a roundtable of relevant industry stakeholders, including consumer advocates and academics, in order to discuss the title insurance industry and analyze potential reforms.
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FHFA: Fannie/Freddie Title Insurance Waiver Pilot Project

White House announces pilot project to waive requirement for lenders' title insurance on certain refinances.

In addition to official statements issued March 7, 2024, President Biden addressed the project during his State of the Union speech: "And my administration is also eliminating title insurance on federally backed mortgages. When you refinance your home, you can save $1,000 or more as a consequence."
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FinCEN Proposed Reporting Requirements for Settlement Agents

The notice of proposed rulemaking, announced by FinCEN February 7, 2024, is the first step in FinCEN's process of adoption of new rules and will be followed by a sixty-day comment period.
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FinCEN Geographic Targeting Order

In an effort to identify money-laundering schemes, the U.S. Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued an updated Geographic Targeting Order (GTO) requiring all title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind companies used in all-cash purchases of real estate. The purchase amount threshold remains $300,000 or more for each covered metropolitan area. In Texas, these reporting requirements are limited to transactions occurring in Bexar, Tarrant, Dallas, Harris, Montgomery, or Webb counties.
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FinCEN Corporate Transparency Act/Beneficial Ownership Rule

FinCEN is issuing a series of rulemakings to implement the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).
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GSE Reform: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

Congress and the Administration are working to reform the institutions that help fund mortgages in the United States.
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NAR Commission Settlement

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reached a $418 million settlement mid-March 2024 that would change the traditional way real estate agents are paid when homes are bought and sold. The changes are set to go into effect by mid-July 2024, according to NAR.
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Remote Ink Notarization

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Right to List Agreements

Since 2018 real estate brokerage firms have been offering homeowners as little as $300 in exchange for signing decades-long listing agreements. These right to list agreements contractually obligate a seller, in exchange for an upfront cash payment, to sign over the right to list their home, placing unreasonable restraints on a seller's future ability to sell or refinance property due to unwarranted transactional costs -- a system contrary to our industry's continued support for certainty of landownership.
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Seller Impersonation Fraud

Seller impersonation fraud, a scam where a fraudster uses publicly available records to impersonate the owner of a vacant or unoccupied property to benefit from the sale, is on the rise across our nation. Buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and closers must be aware of its telltale signs.
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Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is one of the fastest growing cyber crimes in the country. Real estate transactions are a prime target with sophisticated scams targeting individuals performing wire transfer payments during the closing process.
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